Google Lawsuit Just Made Uber's Lousy Month Even Worse

Complaint says ex-Google engineer Anthony Levandowski stole proprietary secrets
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 24, 2017 9:42 AM CST
Google Lawsuit Just Made Uber's Lousy Month Even Worse
More trouble for Uber.   (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Uber hasn't had a good week. Actually, Uber hasn't had a good month. But the bad news isn't over yet: The ride-sharing company is being sued by Waymo, the self-driving car unit of Google parent Alphabet, over accusations that an ex-manager of Google's autonomous car project who defected to Uber in early 2016 stole proprietary trade secrets and infringed on patents, Forbes reports. Anthony Levandowski bolted from Google in January of last year after nine years with the company and launched Otto Trucking, another self-driving company, which Uber then scooped up later in 2016 for a reported $680 million. "We did not steal any Google [intellectual property]," Levandowski insisted to the magazine in October.

Levandowski—described by the Guardian as a "brilliant engineer [who] has a history of skirting the rules" and by Bloomberg as "Google's enemy number one"—isn't listed as a defendant in the suit, but the complaint alleges that he downloaded more than 14,000 confidential files, including those on lidar technology, a laser-based technology both companies have now incorporated into their systems. Not only that, the suit states Levandowski "took extraordinary efforts" to cover up what he'd taken. Recode notes that industry pundits had once speculated that Google and Uber could work together to develop a ride-sharing fleet, but Uber effectively broke away to do its own thing and positioned itself as a Google rival. Waymo offers more context on why it filed the suit in a blog post. (More Uber stories.)

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